At least five people die on Cambodian roads each day

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A garment workers’ minibus is pictured after an accident on National Road 1 in Svay Rieng province on July 31. Photo supplied

A road safety meeting on Monday reported that at least 170 people were killed and 428 injured in 314 traffic accidents in August – an increase of 29 deaths compared to the previous month. There were 22 more accidents in August than in July and 172 more people were injured.

The report said the areas with the most fatal accidents were the capital and Kampong Speu and Banteay Meanchey provinces, with 29, 14 and 11 deaths respectively.

It said 38 per cent of accidents involved speeding, 28 per cent were caused by a failure to respect the right of way, 10 per cent were due to people driving on the wrong side of the road, 10 per cent when people were overtaking, seven per cent involved careless turning, four per cent were caused by drunk drivers and three per cent due to mechanical failure.

National Road Safety Committee deputy head Him Yan could not be reached for comment on Tuesday.

However, during Monday’s meeting, Yan outlined several practical targets for traffic police officers to focus on that contribute to traffic injuries, such as not wearing helmets, speeding, drunk driving, not observing the right of way, and mechanical defects.

Institute for Road Safety acting director Kong Ratanak predicted that the government’s plan to halve traffic deaths by 2020 would be unsuccessful as there was inadequate publicity of traffic laws and law enforcement remained weak.

He said the increasing number of roads and the rise in the volume of traffic, as well as inadequate road safety programmes due to a lack of funding, also contributed to the increase in traffic accidents.

Ratanak suggested that the government should soon update its plans to achieve its goal of reducing traffic fatalities and injuries.

“So, we have to determine which plan will be effective and achievable,” he said.

In May 2011, the government participated in a global initiative to support the UN’s decade-long road safety plan to reduce the death toll by 50 per cent by 2020.

At the annual road safety meeting on January 18, Minister of Interior Sar Kheng expressed concern over the rate of traffic accidents, saying the death toll would double by 2020 if no effective preventive measures were put in place.

“In Cambodia, according to the estimates of road safety experts, if there are no effective preventive measures brought in, the death toll from road accidents will climb to 3,200 a year by 2020. So we need to prevent such a situation to save the lives of Cambodians,” he said.

At least five people on average are killed on Cambodian roads every day.